Structure of the dodecameric Yersinia enterocolitica secretin YscC and its trypsin-resistant core.
The homo-multimeric pIV protein constitutes a channel required for the assembly and export of filamentous phage across the outer membrane of Escherichia coli. We present a 22 A-resolution three-dimensional reconstruction of detergent-solubilized pIV by cryo-electron microscopy associated with image analysis. The structure reveals a barrel-like complex, 13.5 nm in diameter and 24 nm in length, with D14 point-group symmetry, consisting of a dimer of unit multimers. Side views of each unit multimer exhibit three cylindrical domains named the N-ring, the M-ring and the C-ring. Gold labeling of pIV engineered to contain a single cysteine residue near the N or C terminus unambiguously identified the N-terminal region as the N-ring, and the C-terminal region was inferred to make up the C-ring. A large pore, ranging in inner diameter from 6.0 nm to 8.8 nm, runs through the middle of the multimer, but a central domain, the pore gate, blocks it. Moreover, the pore diameter at the N-ring is smaller than the phage particle. We therefore propose that the pIV multimer undergoes a large conformational change during phage transport, with reorganization of the central domain to open the pore, and widening at the N-ring in order to accommodate the 6.5 nm diameter phage particle.